Maslow 6 Welcomes Laura Brunelli Laura Brunelli is coming to town and I’m so excited to see her. I met Laura three years ago at her beautiful home in Montalcino with her husband Gianni. They were incredibly welcoming and gracious, interesting and funny. I spent the better part of three days there, walking their vineyards, eating at their restaurant in Siena, Osteria Le Logge and appreciating their knowledge, passion and joy in their region, city, vineyard and home.
I was terribly saddened to learn of Gianni’s untimely death in 2008. Laura and Gianni spent 31 years together. Laura has carried on the vineyards and the restaurant these past two years and has been very successful and resourceful. Laura told me when I saw her in June 2009 that she felt that she had a mission to carry out and was fulfilling their dreams. Gianni Brunelli was one of those larger than life figures, a friend to artists, writers, musicians and Ambassadors, Brunelli shared his table with them all. His customers include Sting, who comes over to pick up crates of wine from his home and the late Italian poet and writer Mario Luzi who once wrote an ode to his Sienese restaurant Osterie Le Logge.
Gianni, Laura and Gianni’s mother founded the restaurant in 1977. It is located just off the central piazza in Siena, Italy where the Palio race has been held for centuries. When I ate there in July 2007, a parade of musicians, politicians and bank directors made their way past our table. Gianni said hello to everyone. So much so, he almost seemed to be the local mayor. In fact, an American couple leaned over to ask who he was and why everyone kept stopping to say hello. In addition to his restaurant, Brunelli used to own a café in Siena with the world renowned artist Sandro Chia, right in the Piazza del Campo, the main square in Siena. Chia created a gorgeous mosaic in the bar which can still be seen. Chia went on to create his murals all over the world including the famous one in the restaurant Palio in New York City. While the restaurant is world famous, the wines are legendary. They are hard to attain and having one is considered a privilege. Laura Brunelli produces just 30,000 bottles of wine a year, a mix of Brunello Riserva, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino and Amor Costante. Drinking Brunelli wines is an incredibly memorable experience. They are concentrated, layered and nuanced at the same time. Laura will tell you that most of the work that goes into making a fantastic wine is done in the vineyard. She works together with a well established team in the vineyard on a daily basis, pruning, trimming and watching over the vines so that each grape is healthy and picked at perfect ripeness and maturity. Laura originally hails from Sardegna but has made her home in Tuscany for 31 years. Gianni, was a native son of Montalcino and was attached to his town, his country and his land. He believed in organic viticulture and planted all of his vines and every cypress tree on his property.
Laura takes care of the beautiful roses that head each vine row. Roses are often planted in vineyards for aesthetic reasons but more importantly they serve as a monitor for the health of the vine. Parasites attack the roses before they would attack a grape vine and thus give ample warning if any measures need be taken. Laura also grows the most beautiful hydrangeas on the property. By tasting Rosso di Montalcino wines- sometimes referred to as baby brunellos-you can get a real sense of what Brunello will be like in the coming year. Laura uses the classic Sangiovese grape to make both Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino and also experiments successfully with merlot in Amor Costante.